[FSFE PR][EN] Is vendor lock-in costing Helsinki 3.4 million Euros per year?

press at fsfeurope.org press at fsfeurope.org
Thu Apr 12 15:05:41 CEST 2012

= Is vendor lock-in costing Helsinki 3.4 million Euros per year? =

[Read online: http://fsfe.org/news/2012/news-20120412-01.en.html ]

A report on the City of Helsinki's pilot project for the use of
OpenOffice in the public administrations leaves the public with more
questions than answers. The city trialled the Free Software productivity
suite on the laptops of council members for ten months in 2011. The
suite enjoyed high approval rates among its users. When the pilot was
finished, the City produced a report stating that the costs of migrating
the entire administration to OpenOffice would be very high.

"The City's report claims that it would cost EUR 3.4 million per year to
run OpenOffice. This figure appears surprisingly high, and the report
does not say how it was calculated," says Otto Kekäläinen", Finland
coordinator of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "Without details,
this figure seems baseless." Apparently, Helsinki's administration did
not even contact major OpenOffice service providers to ask for their
prices when preparing the report.

The City of Helsinki should answer the following questions:

- How were the figures calculated? The City needs to provide details to
make them credible.
- How much of the migration cost is due to lock-in?
- Which service providers were contacted to ask for prices?

Much of the purported high costs appear to stem from the fact that the
City is locked into the products of a single software vendor. The City
uses a large number of Microsoft products, and each of them makes it
harder to replace any component of the city's IT infrastructure with
programs from other vendors.

"The city should make it clear how much of the costs quoted in the
reports stem actually from rolling out OpenOffice, and how much is
merely the cost of breaking free from Microsoft's proprietary file
formats and interfaces," says Kekäläinen.

It also appears that the pilot program suffered from a number of
conceptual errors. For example, users involved in the pilot program did
not receive training. Though support for Microsoft's latest proprietary
file formats is normally included in OpenOffice, the version installed
on the council members' computers did not support those formats. This
meant that participants in the pilot program experienced problems
exchanging data with the rest of the administration which users of the
normal, full-featured OpenOffice version would not have experienced.
Even so, most participants in the pilot projects declared themselves
happy with the Free Software office suite.

"Many other cities have done before what Helsinki claims to be trying to
do here", says Kekäläinen. "There are many good examples and helpful
contacts out there, whether in Sweden, Munich or Spain. The experienced
people there can help Helsinki achieve its Free Software goals a lot
more quickly and at a lower cost."

FSFE has published an analysis of the report at

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== Contact ==

=== Finland ===

Otto Kekäläinen
FSFE Coordinator, Finland
otto at fsfe.org
+358 44 566 2204

=== International ===

Karsten Gerloff
FSFE President
+49 176 9690 4298

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== About the Free Software Foundation Europe ==
    The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is a non-profit
  non-governmental organisation active in many European countries and
  involved in many global activities. Access to software determines
  participation in a digital society. To secure equal participation in
  the information age, as well as freedom of competition, the Free
  Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) pursues and is dedicated to the
  furthering of Free Software, defined by the freedoms to use, study,
  modify and copy. Founded in 2001, creating awareness for these issues,
  securing Free Software politically and legally, and giving people
  Freedom by supporting development of Free Software are central issues
  of the FSFE.

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